The Kovatch Foundation awarded $20,000 in scholarships during a dinner program Tuesday at Macaluso's Restaurant in Nesquehoning.

Awards, ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 each, were presented to eight college-bound students and one already attending a technical school.

John Kovatch III, president and CEO of the Kovatch Corporation, said, "I'm really proud, and our family's really proud, to carry on the tradition in Sonny's name."

John "Sonny" Kovatch was the founder of the Kovatch firm and expanded it from a neighborhood garage to a corporation that today employs over 900 people and supplies fire apparatus to concerns around the globe.

He died at the age of 85 on Jan. 29, 2011, while still actively involved in running the company.

"This is all about remembering Sonny," Kovatch said.

"It's our intention that this foundation goes on forever."

He told the gathering, "Sonny was an extremely brilliant man. He had to be to create what he created.

"I'm sure he would be very proud how his legacy is helping you further your education," he told the award recipients.

George Mermon, chairman of the board of the scholarship foundation, presented the John "Sonny" Kovatch Memorial Scholarships to:

Ÿ Christina Slack, Jim Thorpe High School, attending the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater campus, majoring in chemistry.

Ÿ Marley Mikovich, Panther Valley High School, attending Lehigh Carbon Community College.

Ÿ Richelle Van Horn, Panther Valley High School, who will attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania majoring in biology pre-dental.

Ÿ Albert Fort, presently attending Universal Technical Institute, studying diesel mechanics.

Ÿ Zach Stromelo, Panther Valley High School, who will attend Harrisburg Area Community College, majoring in structural engineering.

Ÿ Riley McHugh, Marian Catholic High School, who will attend Temple University, majoring in computer engineering.

Ÿ Katlyn R. McHugh, Hazleton High School, who will attend Temple University, majoring in legal studies.

Ÿ Jacob Szczecina, Panther Valley High School, who will attend Misericordia University, majoring in physical therapy.

Ÿ Brent Webster, Copper Hill, Va., who will attend Virginia Western for applied science and radiology.

The Kovatch Corporation has a plant in Virginia which made Webster eligible for the scholarship.

A plaque was also presented to John Kovatch IV, who raised a large amount of the scholarship funds at a grand prix race he hosted last month in Nesquehoning.